The Zahir

Our little magic box of a 3D printer has a single-print volume limitation of 9.9 by 7.8 by 5.9 inches, but of course we can assemble multiple printed objects into something more elaborate and larger. As an architect, I have to claim to idolize complicated carpentry and elaborate joinery, and perforce I should imagine that in a perfect world we could have our buildings assembled by painstaking traditional Japanese carpenters. But that doesn’t happen here, where I try to get things built. Everything is simply butted together…nailed, screwed, hung, glued…and so I decided that my 3D-printed microcosm of building assembly would follow the same quotidian route as my architectural projects

The fifty-odd prints that I made for this test of our machine (as well as some salvaged hardwood thrown in for good measure) ultimately composed an odd little mass standing just over a foot tall. The largest individual elements took six hours to print, at a medium filament resolution of 0.2mm.

The computer-aided design of this test-object — this thing — is nothing more than an exercise in cynicism. There is no reason for it to look like that, as far as my testing regime for the printer goes. I set up a procedure, just as I observed my betters doing while I was in architecture school, and I followed it through. I suppose I could have generated these things with a script, if I had wanted to waste more time. I freely admit that there’s no meaning behind the form, just a set of actions arbitrarily defined and then repeated. (As you might be aware, certain architects have built their careers through deliberately confusing meaning and purpose with formal procedure.)

But I will admit that I was reading Borges, specifically his 1949 story of a cursed object of overwhelming fascination, when I came up with the scheme.


More images are available at web albums here and here.

June 28th, 2017
Categories: Artwork, Design, Other Creative Work
Tags: , , ,